Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Summer Side Dish~Peppered Candied Bacon and Asparagus, Paleo, Gluten Free

Happy Thursday friends!  Today I am back with another recipe chosen for the meal plan this week by #2.  This time it's a side dish.  She didn't have to do much arm twisting to get us to try this one.  I mean, who doesn't love bacon? and if you don't I don't won't to know

Peppered Candied Bacon and Asparagus


4-5 pieces of uncured nitrate free peppered bacon (keep 1 TBS of the rendered bacon fat for cooking)
1 TBS or more of coconut sugar (divided)
1 bunch of large asparagus (about 15-20 spears)
1 shallot (sliced)
1/4 tsp each sea salt/black pepper
1 tsp or more of lemon juice (optional but brings out the flavors!)


1. Preheat oven to 400*F.  Lining a baking pan with foil.

2. Place 4-5 pieces of uncured smoked or regular peppered bacon on baking tray.

3. Sprinkle with 1/2 to 3/4 TBS of coconut sugar.  Make sure it's evenly distributed on bacon.

4. Bake on bottom rack for 15-18 minutes.

5. Remove from oven.  The longer the crispier.  You can easily do this in the microwave too if you are short on time.

6. Spoon 1-2 TBS of the bacon juice into a bowl.  Let it sit for later use.

7. Once bacon is somewhat cooled, chop it into small pieces.  Set aside.

8. Next clean your asparagus and trim bottom stems.

9. Slice your shallot lengthwise.

10.  Place the bacon fat in a large skillet on medium heat.

11. Add in your asparagus, shallot, pepper, sea salt, and a little more coconut sugar if desired.

12. Saute veggies for about 10 minutes or until asparagus is more golden and only slightly crispy on the ends. (time with vary depending on the thickness of your spears)

13.  Remove from heat.

14. Place asparagus in a serving dish and add your candied bacon bits.

15.  Spoon any extra juice from the skillet over the asparagus/shallots/bacon.

16.  Feel free to add more pepper/lemon/salt here if desired.

This was a tasty side that would be perfect with any number of proteins.  We chose to serve along beef filets.


*original recipe can be found here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Another Pick by #2~Easy Seafood Paella

Y'all #2 has picked some amazing recipes for us to try this week.  Again another quick and easy dish, but full of flavor.

As you know, I am a fan of a ONE dish meal.  This actually takes two because you boil the lobster separate and need to save the water, but the rest goes in one pan.

Easy Seafood Paella


4 small lobster tails (6-12 oz each)  ***Kroger had the frozen on sale this week.  You could sub jumbo lump crab as well.
3 TBS olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 C Spanish rice or short grain rice, soaked in water for 15 minutes and then drained (we used Arborito)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large pinches of Spanish saffron threads soaked in 1/2 cup water
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp aleppo pepper flakes (we used crushed red pepper flakes)
2 large Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
6 oz French green beans (we trimmed and cut in half)
1 lb prawns or large shrimp or your choice, peeled and deveined
1/4 C chopped fresh parsley


1. In a large pot, bring 3 cups of water to a rolling boil.  Add the lobster tails and let boil very briefly (1-2 minutes) until pink. ***a bit longer if still frozen Turn the heat off. Remove the lobster tails with a pair of tongs.  Do not discard the lobster cooking water. When the lobster is cool enough to handle, remove the shell and cut into large chunks.
2. In a large deep pan or skillet, heat 3 TBS olive oil. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the chopped onions.  Saute the onions for 2 minutes then add the rice, and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring regularly.  Now add the chopped garlic and the lobster cooking water. Stir in the saffron and it's soaking liquid, paprika, cayenne pepper, aleppo pepper, and salt. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and green beans.  Bring to a boil and let the liquid slightly reduce, then cover (with lid or tightly with foil) and cook on low heat for 20 minutes.
3. Uncover and spread the shrimp over the rice, pushing it into the rice slightly.  Add a little water if needed.  Cover and cook another 10-15 minutes until the shrimp turns pink. Finally, add the cooked lobster chunks.  When the lobster is warmed through, turn heat off.  Garnish with parsley.
4. Serve the paella hot with your favorite white wine.

Original recipe can be found here.

While the original recipe says it serves 4, this makes enough for double that in my opinion.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

#2 Meal Plans~Pan-Seared Tilapia in Tomato Basil Sauce

I am back today with what I believe is one of the best dishes we have made in the past few weeks.  #2 created the meal plan this week, and I can't wait to share some new to us and to you dishes.

I think what truly made this dish was the fact that the tomatoes, jalapeno and basil all came fresh from our backyard garden.  Nothing better than homegrown in my opinion.

Pan-Seared Tilapia in Tomato Basil Sauce


For the Tilapia:

2 TBS oil oil
1 1/2 pounds fresh tilapia, cut into 3-4 fillets
Salt and pepper

For the Tomato Basil Sauce:

2 TBS olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional, we used)
2 or 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 small jalapeno, sliced
1/4 C vegetable stock
1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest
salt and fresh ground black pepper


For the Tomato Basil Sauce:

1. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add crushed red pepper flakes and garlic and saute for 1 minute, or until garlic is fragrant.

2. Add the cherry tomatoes and jalapeno and cook, stirring occasionally, until they're soft and blistering, but still hold their shape, about 12 minutes.  Add in the vegetable stock, stir, allow the mixture to come to a light simmer.

3. Stir in the basil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the sauce into a large bowl and set aside for later.

For the Tilapia:

1. Heat oil in the same pan over medium heat. Season both sides of fish with salt and pepper.  Place tilapia fillets in the oil and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes on both sides, until it's cooked through.

2. Pour the tomato basil sauce over the fish and reheat quickly.  Serve all at once with additional chopped basil.

We served alongside rice.

Y'all the fish is melt in your mouth good.  And, the freshness of the homegrown herbs and veggies just elevates this dish even more.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles~It's What's For Dinner

Hello, and happy late Monday.  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  We spent a good bit of it doing yard work.  All this rain has created some major drainage problems we are trying to correct.

Today I thought I'd share a quick and easy recipe with you.  This is a dish that once prepped (the time consuming part) comes together quickly.

Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles


12 oz spaghetti (we use gluten free)
1 large red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips then cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced into thin strips then cut into 2-inch pieces
1 C matchstick carrots
3/4 C chopped green onions
1/2 C chopped cilantro
1/2 C lightly salted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
Sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

Peanut Sauce:

1/2 C creamy peanut butter
1/4 C warm water
3 TBS soy sauce (we used coconut aminos)
2 TBS honey
2 TBS Sriracha (more of less to taste)
2 TBS fresh lime juice
1 1/2 TBS peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 TBS minced garlic
1 TBS sesame oil (we used canola as I cannot have sesame)


Cook spaghetti according to directions listed on package.  Meanwhile prepare peanut sauce by combining all sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl, whisking until well blended and smooth.

I like to prep everything ahead of time as seen below.

Drain pasta and pour into a large serving bowl.  Toss with sauce then add bell pepper, cucumber, green onions, cilantro and peanuts and toss lightly.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Original recipe can be found here.

Super tasty and easy. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A "Poppin" 4th with Skinnypop Popcorn~

Hello friends.  Happy day after 4th of July.  I pray everyone had a safe and fun holiday.  In typical Atlanta fashion, it rained on and off all day.  Boo.  But, that didn't stop us from having a little fun on our covered porch.

I was recently contacted by the Outreach Coordinator for Skinnypop Popcorn. They have put together a great list of cocktail and popcorn pairings to enjoy this summer.  Most of you know, we love our popcorn!  I couldn't pass up an opportunity to share a brand that we have come to love with my readers.

Please note, I am in no way being compensated for this post.  All opinions are that of my own.

What I love most about the brand is their packaging.  When selecting a bag you know exactly what you are getting.  No hidden ingredients, nothing I can't pronounce.

Dairy Free (in the case of their White Cheddar popcorn, a win for this dairy free family)
Gluten Free
Peanut Free
Tree Nut Free
Preservative Free
No Artificial Flavors
Zero Trans Fat

How fun are these simple pairings? Moscow Mule/Original, Blueberry Mojito/Sea Salt & Pepper, Blackberry Smash/Aged White Cheddar/Dairy Free White Cheddar, White Peach Sangria/Naturally Sweet, Coconut Margarita/ Pepper Jack/Jalapenó.

We decided to get a little creative ourselves.  We were thrilled to learn that Skinnypop White Cheddar Popcorn is dairy free.  And Rosé wine is so hot now.  So, why not combine the two?  Who doesn't love wine and cheese?

The table setting came together quickly with things I already had around the house.  I will share the recipe for the Rosé Lemonade at the end of the post.  The perfect cocktail for a hot humid summer day.

To anchor the table setting I used my galvanized tray and lanterns from Target.  For the centerpiece I used a small white pitcher from Home Goods that I tied a bit of red, white and blue ribbon around and filled with inexpensive carnations from Trader Joes.  The blue and white J napkins were a gift from a girlfriend.  We had blue Solo cups on hand as well as the red and white striped paper straws.  My #2 created the "Have a Poppin' 4th of July" flags on her computer for me.  We attached them to the straws with a bit of double stick tape.  The red and white popcorn bucket is an old Target dollar section find we use for movie nights. My go to glass pitcher and wine glasses finished it off. Y'all we pulled this off in 20 minutes.  

The Solo cups filled with the White Cheddar popcorn are the perfect portion size, and the cute little flags just add a festive touch.  This could be done with any number of the colored cups available for a variety of holidays.  Think the Naturally Sweet popcorn in red Solo cups with a bit of red, white and pink sprinkles on top.  Attach one of those yummy cinnamon gummy hearts to the straws and you've created a fun, sweet treat in no time.

I just loved the blush pink color of the Rosé Lemonade.  Sliced lemons in the pitcher and on the rim of the glasses just scream summertime. 

A closer look at the darling flags #2 designed for the occasion. 

A centerpiece doesn't have to break the bank.  These sweet carnations were under $5, and will last a few weeks.

Rosé Lemonade (original recipe found on kitchn)

Makes 8 servings

1 (750-milliliter) bottle dry rosé wine
3 cups lemonade (we used Real Time lemon juice-1 C juice, 1 C sugar, 6 1/2 Cups Water)
1 medium lemon, sliced (I used two so we could rim the glasses)
1 (12-ounce) can club soda

Combine the rosé, lemonade, and lemon slices in a large pitcher filled with ice.  Top with club soda.  Pour into 8 glasses, adding ice from the pitcher to each glass as needed.

***This recipe could easily be doubled to fill a drink dispenser making serving a breeze for a larger gathering.

I hope this will inspire you to try the many Skinnypop flavors that are available, and maybe create your own cocktail to go with it.

***photo credit goes to my talented #2

Friday, June 30, 2017

A Recipe for the 4th~Sweet and Spicy Coca-Cola Chicken

Since we've been on a roll with summertime dinners, I figured I might as well round out the week with another "perfect for summer" recipe.  This one would be perfect for the 4th!

Sweet and Spicy Coca-Cola Chicken

***this recipe was originally for wings, but we chose to use chicken breasts.


2 double chicken breasts (or however many you need, you'll have plenty of sauce!)


1 1/2 cups Coca-Cola (if using the bottles, it'll take a little more than one)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup tomato paste (1 small can will do it)
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1/3 cup red pepper hot sauce (like cayenne or tabasco pepper sauce, we used Texas Pete's)
1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika (regular will work if that's all you have on hand)
1 teaspoon kosher salt


Trim excess fat from your chicken breasts.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place chicken on the baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Reduce your oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Baste the chicken with the sauce, and back an additional 7 minutes.

***NOTE:  these could easily be done on the grill as well.

We served alongside Bush's new Sriracha baked beans.  The perfect combo!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Chili Orange Glazed Short Ribs~It's What's for Dinner

Now that #2 has started to work full-time after a bit of time off after graduation, we have gone back to our weekly meal planning.  It's always nice to know what's for dinner and that the ingredients needed are already on hand. And the leftovers make great home-cooked meals for her to take for lunch the next day.

Our chili pepper plant has produced quite a bit of peppers due to all the rain we have had.  Hubby was craving short ribs, so I searched for a recipe that would combine the two.  I stumbled upon this one on Pinterest.  Add in the oranges and it was perfect for summer.

Chili Orange Glazed Short Ribs

While cooking, the colors and smell are amazing!


3.5 lbs short ribs
olive oil
kosher salt
1 C orange juice, no pulp
1 C beef broth (I used stock because I had it on hand in the 1 C boxes)
1 C water
1 large orange, cut into about 8 wedges
5 cloves (original recipe, I put 5 cloves in each orange wedge as that seemed more like it)
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3-4 red chilis (adjust up or down depending on how hot you like it, we used 3)
3 cloves garlic
1/3 C basil, cut into ribbons (from the garden as well)
1 large knob ginger, sliced

Garnish (this is optional in my opinion, I would garnish if serving to company for presentation)
2-3 scallions, cut into rings
1-2 red chilis, sliced into sticks
1 large orange, cut into about 8 slices
1/4 C basil, cut into ribbons


1. Sear the short ribs.  Drizzle a little olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot (we love our Staub Dutch oven for this) and set it on the stove over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the ribs with a little salt, and toss them in the pot when the oil is hot.  When they are nice and brown on one side, flip them over. Get all the sides, even the ends.  (I did this in two batches)

2. While the ribs are searing, cut up your orange and stick the cloves into the rind like little nails.

3. Simmer the short ribs:  When all your ribs are seared, toss them all back in the pot.  Add the orange juice, beef broth, water, orange studded with cloves, onion, chilis, garlic, basil, and ginger. Give the pot a stir as much as you can. Bring the liquid up to a boil over high heat.  Knock the heat down so that the liquid just holds a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 3-3.5 hours, stirring occasionally.

4. They're done when the meat comes away from the bone easily with a fork.

5.  Strain the broth:  Remove the ribs from the pot with tongs and tuck away on a plate for a minute.  Strain the cooking liquid, discarding the solids.   Skim the fat off the broth and discard.

6. Reduce the broth:  Toss the broth back in your pot, and boil, uncovered, over high heat until it's reduced by about half.  Taste as you go, toss in a little salt, etc., to suit your taste.

7.  Arrange your short ribs on a serving platter.  Add the reduced broth.  Sprinkle with scallions, basil, cut hot peppers.  Nestle the orange slices around the platter.  Serve and enjoy!

***Notes:  I found it easier to prep all my ingredients prior to searing the ribs.  Once the ribs were seared it was easy to just throw the rest in.  And as I mentioned, step #7 is optional. I just plated the ribs and put the broth in a gravy boat.

and done.  

We served alongside rice.

Y'all these are melt in your mouth good!!!  The orange and hint of clove would make this a great fall dish as well.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer Dishes~Zesty Spaghetti Salad

Good morning!  The rain is finally behind us, and we have had a couple of gorgeous sunny days with a bit of a breeze. The perfect way to start summer.

Today I thought I'd share another easy summer recipe with you.

Zesty Spaghetti Salad


12 oz spaghetti noodles (we used gluten free)
12 oz bottle Zesty Italian dressing (we used Kraft)
1 tomato, chopped (fresh from the garden)
2 green onions, chopped
1 small can chopped black olives
1 tsp. sugar
2 TBS Mrs. Dash Original Blend Seasoning
1 TBS dried onion flakes
1 C freshly shredded Parmesan cheese (we subbed a bit of vegan Mozzarella and vegan grated Parm)
1/2 C chopped pepperoni (we used Boar's Head)


1. In a large pot of water (heavily salted) brought to a boil, cook the spaghetti noodles as directed.
2. Add the cooked spaghetti to a large serving bowl.  Pour the dressing over the noodles a little at a time (it does soak it up, but you may find you don't need it all) and toss to coat.
3. Add in the remaining ingredients; tomato, black olives, green onion, sugar, seasoning blend, onion flakes, cheese and pepperoni.  Toss again.
4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  (it will stay fresh in the fridge for 2-3 days, great for leftovers for lunch the next day)


Monday, June 26, 2017

BLT Pasta Salad~the perfect summertime salad

Hello everyone!  I pray each of you had a wonderful weekend.  The sun is FINALLY out here, and this girl could not be happier.

Today I thought I would share a quick and easy summer time salad with you.  This can be served as the main course or as a side dish.

BLT Pasta Salad


2 1/2 cups uncooked bow tie pasta (we used Jovial Brown Rice)
6 cups torn romaine lettuce
1 medium tomato, diced (love using fresh from our garden)
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (we used pre-cooked to save time)
1/2 cup ranch dressing (recipe to follow)
1 TBS barbecue sauce
1/4 tsp pepper


1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.  Then rinse pasta under cold water.
2. In a large bowl, combine romaine lettuce, tomato, back and pasta.
3. Drizzle the ranch dressing and barbecue sauce over the top.  Gently toss to coat evenly. Season with pepper.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

Homemade Ranch Dressing (gluten free, vegan, dairy free)

1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp dill
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp dried thyme

Mix the spices with 1 cup vegan mayonaise, 1 cup dairy free milk and 1 tsp vinegar (this takes the place of buttermilk).  I combined all in a mason jar and gave it a good shake.

The dressing was a bit thin, but worked fine on the salad.  Next time I will probably cut the milk/vinegar in half to thicken it up.

I'll have another cold pasta recipe to share with you later in the week.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Rain and Summertime Blooms~

Y'all we have had some serious rain here in Atlanta lately. While I do not care for the strong thunderstorms we've experienced most recently, the rain has everything so lush and green this year.

I thought I'd share a few backyard pictures with you today.

Our hydrangeas are huge this year, and the colors so vibrant.

Love the deep crimson and yellow combo of the daylillies.

Our pots started out with just tiny plants and are now full and overflowing.  Potato vine is one of my favorites as it really does well here.

The petunias are gonna need a clip soon as they are getting a little "leggy".

Our Koi just keep getting bigger.  And yes, that would be fishing line across the pond.  We are in close proximity to the Chattahoochee River and the Heron love our Koi!

As I mentioned in an earlier post this week, our herb garden has really benefited from all the rain we've had.  Our sage plants are enormous.

This was our herb garden back in March.

And now.

And, knock out roses are always a win here in the hot south.

Our cherry tomato plant is huge this year as well.  We have already enjoyed handfuls of them.

And, this is my new favorite spot to enjoy it all.  This is the swing #1 built for us for Christmas.

I hope you can get out and enjoy a bit of nature this weekend.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lemon Basil Grilled Pork Chops~It's What's for Dinner

Today I thought I'd share another recent summer recipe we tried.  We have a fabulous herb garden in our backyard, and with all the rain we have had the herbs are a plenty.  So, we decided to harvest some of our basil for this one.

Lemon Basil Grilled Pork Chops


4 thick-cut, boneless pork loin chops
2 TBS olive oil
1 C fresh basil leaves, minced
3 TBS minced garlic
3 TBS lemon juice
1 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp pepper


1. Add olive oil, basil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a bowl and mix well.
2. Spread both sides of the pork chops with the mixture and let the chops set for about 20 minutes.
3. Grill chops over direct heat for about 5-6 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches at least 145 degrees.
4. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

We served alongside fresh cut green beans and rice.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Some Summertime Favorites~

It has been a long time since I have shared a "favorite things" post.  So today I thought I'd share a few summertime favorites we have been enjoying.

The first #1 turned us on to.  Y'all this stuff is addicting, but not for the faint of heart.  If you love heat, you are gonna love this.

Be forewarned, it''s addicting so have a buddy handy to share keep you from eating the entire bag in one sitting, that may or may not have happened to one of us. We found it at Kroger.

And because you are gonna need something to wash that stuff down you might want to give this a try this summer.  As you know, Rose wine is quite popular this time of year.  My sweet blog friend and hometown girl Paige of The Pink Clutch shared this fabulous list of Rose on her blog and has posted some on Instagram as well.  If you aren't already following her, you need to hop on over right now.  She is just the most genuine person, with a fabulous sense of style!

You could wash it down with a Margarita too!

Y'all my #2 and I love Caramel.  The problem is both of us cannot have dairy (me-Cow's milk, she-all animal milk).  We discovered these this past fall and they are so yummy.  They now come in a Sea Salt version as well.   We have found them at Kroger and Sprouts.

What do you do when the summer storms blow through and knock your power out for 12 hours?  Why you challenge your #2 to a friendly game of War.

I won, just sayin'

Y'all we have had SOOOOOO much rain this spring/early summer.  But, with that comes gorgeous color and huge blooms.  I love bringing some of our hydrangeas indoors.  The colors this year are so vibrant.

Check back tomorrow for another yummy summertime recipe.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mahogany Grilled Chicken Wings~Summertime Dinner

Today I thought I'd share a recent yummy summertime meal we prepared.  The recipe is from the Williams Sonoma Essentials of Grilling Cookbook. Rather than using chicken parts, we opted for wings.

Mahogany Chicken Wings

Ingredients for Mahogany Glaze:

1/4 m Molasses
1/4 C cider vinegar
1 TBS vegetable oi
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce (GF)
1 TBS whole-grain Dijon mustard (GF)
1 TBS fresh orange juice
1 tsp grated orange zest
Freshly ground pepper

Approx. 2 pounds chicken wings (or 2 1/2 lbs mixed chicken parts)

2 handfuls wood chips such as hickory or mesquite, soaked if using charcoal (we used gas)

Directions for glaze:

In a small saucepan, combine the molasses, vinegar, oil, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, orange juice and zest, and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring often.  Simmer 2 minutes to blend the flavors, stirring often.  Use the glaze immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling over medium heat.  If using a charcoal grill, place a drip pan half full of water on the center of the fire bed.  Oil the grill rack.  Brush the chicken wings with some of the glaze.

Sprinkle half of the wood chips on the coals, if using.  Grill the chicken skin side down, over the drip pan for 10 minutes.  Turn the chicken, brush with more glaze, and grill for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle remaining wood chips on the coals.  Continue to grill, turning and brushing the chicken 2 more times, until the juices run clean when a thigh or breast is pierced with a knife tip, about 20 minutes longer.

Add the wood chips to the grill in a smoker box or perforated foil packet.  Grill the chicken skin side down, away from the heat elements for 10 minutes.  Turn the chicken, brush with more glaze, and grill for 10 minutes.  Continue to grill, turning and brushing the chicken 2 more times, until the juices run clear when a thigh or breast is pierced with a knife tip, about 20 minutes longer.

***NOTE:  cooking times will be shorter if using wings as they cook faster than parts.

Y'all these are the bomb!  Sweet, sticky and full of flavor.  Serve alongside grilled veggies or fries for an easy summertime meal.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Life Lately~What's Been Keeping Us Busy

Hello??? Anyone still out there?  I can't believe it's been two months since my last post!  How is it June already?

We've been busy doing this thing called Life.

Today, I thought I'd catch you up on what has been occupying my time outside of blog land.

As most of you know, we lost my sweet MIL in mid-March.  You can read the tribute to her here.
She was very blessed to have lived in her own home for more than 60 years!  But, with that comes a lot of stuff.  While we cleaned a lot out while up there in March, we still have a bit more to take care of.  And of course, we brought many things home with us.  You might also recall that our youngest moved back home in December.  So, three households under one roof.  We have finally dug our way out. Haha.

May brought some happier times for our family.

Our youngest daughter graduated from the University of TN with her Masters in Speech Language Pathology.  And, today she starts her new job at a local hospital.  We could not be more proud of her.

We then celebrated Mother's Day.  While bittersweet this year, the girls made sure that I was remembered and made the day a little easier for their dad to get through.  Church and then a delicious meal cooked by #2 was in order.

May 21st found us celebrating our 29th wedding anniversary.  I have been blessed to be married to my best friend, and the most wonderful father to our girls.

The girls and I so enjoyed celebrating him yesterday on Father's Day.  #1 had dad help her with a wood project she is working on (the girl knows her way around power tools thanks to him), I made him fresh homemade salsa with ingredients from the garden (his request), the girls and I prepped dinner-cilantro lime shrimp and grilled veggies that he prepared on the grill with his new grill pan #1 gave him, and #2 made him a blueberry crisp using our homegrown blueberries. Scrumptious.  We so enjoy having our girls close by.

And, if you follow me on Instagram you know that our precious Henley has gotten quite big.  6 months and 46 pounds!

He is such a joy to have around.

Tomorrow I will be sharing a yummy grilled chicken wing recipe, so be sure to check back.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

What's for Dinner Wednesday~Chicken with Pepperoni-Marinara Sauce

Hello everyone!  It feels good to get back to cooking and blogging.  We continue to be blessed by all of your sweet emails and messages being sent our way.

This is such an easy recipe to prepare, and perfect for a busy weeknight.  Kid friendly too!

Chicken with Pepperoni-Marinara Sauce
(Cooking Light Ultimate Chicken Cookbook 2012

We have adapted this recipe to be gluten free, dairy free and soy free.


Cooking spray (we prefer coconut oil spray)
1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic (we ALWAYS keep a jar on hand)
16 slices pepperoni, coarsely chopped (we use Hormel naturals)
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce (we prefer Nello's brand)
2 TBS chopped fresh basil (already in our garden)
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets (we used breasts and just pounded until thin)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper (we use white as I cannot have black)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (we used Follow Your Heart Vegan and shredded ourselves)

1. Preheat broiler to high.

2. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic and pepperoni; cook 2 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring frequently. Add oregano; cook 30 seconds. Add marinara sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in basil.

3. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken with pepper.  Add chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, turning after 3 minutes.  Spoon sauce over chicken; sprinkle evenly with cheese.  Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

We served with simple mixed greens and Italian dressing.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What Makes Me Happy~

Good Wednesday morning everyone!

I wanted to first off thank you, my sweet friends and readers, for all of your heartfelt comments and emails regarding the recent loss of my Mother In Law, Ruth.  We can't possibly express how much your love and prayers have meant to us during this difficult time.  

In lieu of a What's for Dinner Wednesday post (which I hope to resume next week), I am guest posting over at my dear friend Ron's blog, Uptown Acorn, for his What Makes Me Happy Series. Because let's face it, everyone needs a little happiness in their lives.  And, I know my sweet MIL wouldn't want us to be sad.  She lived life to the fullest, and found joy in even the simplest of things.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Saying Goodbye to Mom~

It is with an extremely heavy heart, and through tears,  that I write this post.  As many of you know, my precious MIL fell ill two weeks ago.  God called her home on March 18, 2017.

She was 98 1/2 years young, and the most amazing woman I have ever had the privilege of knowing. She was part of the greatest generation that has ever lived.  She had seen it all, yet remained positive until the end.  She was never one to complain, rather look for the good in everything and everyone. I remember always asking her when I'd call, "Mom, how are you doing?" and she would reply with a little chuckle in her voice, "Better than the alternative."  She set a beautiful example of what a daughter, wife, mother, sister, aunt and grandmother should be.  God was always first, and her best friend.  Something that didn't go unnoticed by her best friend, as she recommended that one of the hymns for Mom's service be What a Friend We Have in Jesus.  She did indeed call Jesus her friend, and knew she could count on Him to see her through anything that came her way.

Reverend Trosien preached a beautiful sermon from Malachi 3:16-17, "God's completed Gem".

The Faithful Remnant

"Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of rememberance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. On the day when I act, says the Lord Almighty, they will be my treasured possession.  I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him."

Mom, you were a gem to all who had the privilege of knowing you and you will be greatly missed.

And because she wouldn't want us to be sad, I'll end with a funny story...

My FIL always called her the "boss".  When we asked a question of him, he would reply, "go ask the boss." (jokingly, of course)

When mom passed from this broken world and arrived in heaven, we could just hear sweet dad..."Oh Lord, the boss is back!"

To which she would reply, "Would anyone like some coffee and dessert?"

Ruth Eleanor
August 28, 1918-March 18, 2017

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Checking In~Prayers Needed

I realized not all of my blogging friends follow me on Instagram and Facebook, so I wanted to check in here and let you know where I've been and to ask for prayer.

Many of you know my sweet MIL is 98 years old.  Up until late Sunday evening, she was still living in her own home. Remarkable!  She does have an amazing caregiver who looks in on her daily, and has truly been (and continues to be) a godsend to us. She lives in Michigan, we are in Georgia.  Other than age related dementia, she was in amazing health given her age.

Sunday evening we received a call from her caregiver that mom was not well.  In fact, she felt she may not make it through the night.  She was fading fast.  The decision at the time was made to keep mom at home, as transporting her in the frigid weather would only makes matters worse.  A dear friend was with her as well.  Her caregiver ran home to collect her things so she could spend the night with her at the house.  When she returned home, she and mom's dear friend felt she had had a stroke as she was having difficulty with her left arm and leg. At that time all were in agreement that she needed to be transported to the hospital.

The ambulance arrived, and true to form, mom's feisty German side reared its head and she fought tooth and nail.  She was alert and telling my husband there was no need for her to go to the hospital. A sign she was still very much with us.

She was admitted to the hospital (after doctors initially considered transferring her to the larger hospital down south for cardiac care).  We were told she had suffered a mild heart attack, and most likely a stroke (it did not show up on the CT scan).  She was started on heart medication.  She had her ups and downs. The decision was made to transport her to a skilled nursing facility near by for rehabilitation (however, it was clear to us she would not be able to return home long term).  She was transported late yesterday afternoon.  We had the chance to speak with her, and while confused and upset as to why she was there and once again wanting to go home, she was getting a little stronger.

This morning, just before one AM we received the call we prayed we would never get...she had attempted to get out of bed and had fallen.  She broke her femur just below her hip joint.  They were transporting her to the hospital.

She was see by an orthopaedist, who set the break.  She was then transported back to the nursing facility early this morning and placed in hospice care. While being medicated, she has had moments where she is awake and able to carry on a conversation.  So we have been able to talk with her. Her precious caregiver has been with her as well as her dearest friend. At this time, the goal is to keep her comfortable.

I know many of you are prayer warriors, and we would so appreciate those prayers for her and for us, and for her caregiver who truly is an angel.

We are in the midst of making arrangements to be with her.  Please pray for travel mercies as well.

I will be away from the blog for as long as needed, and to be with my family.

Much love and thanks, Lauren

Friday, March 10, 2017

TGIF~DIY Industrial Shelves Addition

Hello friends!  Gosh, this week sure did fly by.  I have been busy keeping up with a now VERY active Golden Retriever, a.k.a. HENLEY!!  He really is a joy.

Today I thought I would share our new industrial shelves that we diy'd for a corner in our kitchen. We used to have a chalkboard hanging on that wall, but since we already had another chalkboard area on the side of our refrigerator cabinet we decided two weren't necessary.

I love the extra storage the shelves provide, while also being decorative.  I got the idea from Suzy of Worthing Court.  You can read her DIY tutorial here.  The only thing I will add is that we had an issue with one of the pipes not being level once screwed into the flange.  Of course, this will make the shelf not level when placing it on the pipe brackets.  We ended up purchasing another set, and checked all for level on a flat surface using a small magnetic level we had on hand prior to installing.  I used Rustoleum's hammered metal spray paint in black to paint the metal parts.  As Suzy mentions in her tutorial, be sure to wash all metal parts in soapy water to remove all the grease before painting them.

The before, from Christmas:

And the afters:

This picture shows you where the corner is located.  It's a small wall just inside our french doors that lead to our back porch.  The opening on the left leads to our family room.

I love that with just a few simple changes, I can decorate them for different holidays.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.  Was a stormy morning, but the sun is shining brightly now.